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Tools                  40,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

In General

The multiple ways in which Homo spaiens diverged physically and behaviorally from pre-sapiens forms of Homo in the period between about 300,000 years ago to 30,000 years ago are collectively referred to as the "Middle/Upper Paleolithic transition." This "transition" is visible in many radical changes, such as many technological innovations, including the bow and arrow, atlatl (throwing stick), bone and wood tools of diverse types, and techniques for extracting a relatively great amount of cutting edge from a given amount of stone.(18)

Surveys of the movement of raw materials for stone tools show that between the late Middle Palaeolithic and early Upper Palaeolithic the distribution of the distance of transfer shifted markedly, from virtually none being moved over 100 km to nearly half being exchanged over 200 km or more. In addition, there is evidence of seashells being moved over even greater distances. The importance of this emerging activity is not simply a matter of acquiring material goods but is a measure of the increasing sophistication of palaeolithic societies between 40 and 30 kya: the purpose of exchange was to develop social contacts. (145)

Africa

 Many of the tools continued to be of stone, but they were now made from thin blades struck off larger stones, thereby yielding ten times more cutting edge from a given quantity of raw stone than obtainable previously. Standardized bone and antler tools appeared for the first time. So did unequivocal compound tools of several parts tied or glued together, such as spear points set in shafts or axe heads fitted onto wooden handles. Tools fall into many distinct categories whose function is often obvious, such as needles, awls, mortars and pestles, fishhooks, net sinkers, and rope. The rope (used in nets or snares) accounts for the frequent bones of foxes, weasels, and rabbits at Cro-Magnon sites, while the rope, fishhooks, and net sinkers explain the bones of fish and flying birds at contemporary South African sites. (114)

Sophisticated weapons for safely killing dangerous large animals at a distance now appear--weapons such as barbed harpoons, darts, spear throwers, and bows and arrows. South African caves occupied by people now yield bones of such vicious prey as adult Cape buffalo and pigs, while European caves are full of bones of bison, elk, reindeer, horse, and ibex. Even today, hunters armed with high-powered telescopic rifles find it hard to bag some of these species, which must have required highly skilled communal hunting methods based on detailed knowledge of each species' behavior. (114)  

The earliest mines we know of in Africa go back, astonishingly, 43,200 1300 years and were exploited for cosmetics, the decoration of the body, the mining being of haematite and specularite. (135)

Southwest Asia

 

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

 

China

 

Europe

The Neanderthals were adept stone toolmakers. Most of their tools belong to the Mousterian stone tool industry (named after the site of Le Moustier in southern France), which includes several distinctive stylistic and funtional elements. Francois Bordes uncovered 64 superimposed occupational levels in one cave, spanning the period from about 85,000 to 45,000 years ago.(19)

Tools and tool types of the Aurignacian culture displayed standardization. Over time, they included end scrapers for preparing animal skins and burins for engraving. Flint tools were made from blades of stone rather than flakes. Projectile points (for hunting) were made from antler, bone, and ivory. Among their significant innovations was the development of body ornamentation, including pierced shells, animal teeth, carved bone pendants, bracelets, and ivory beads. The sudden explosion of exquisite art found at the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave was certainly among their most striking achievements. (70)

Many of the tools continued to be of stone, but they were now made from thin blades struck off larger stones, thereby yielding ten times more cutting edge from a given quantity of raw stone than obtainable previously. Standardized bone and antler tools appeared for the first time. So did unequivocal compound tools of several parts tied or glued together, such as spear points set in shafts or axe heads fitted onto wooden handles. Tools fall into many distinct categories whose function is often obvious, such as needles, awls, mortars and pestles, fishhooks, net sinkers, and rope. The rope (used in nets or snares) accounts for the frequent bones of foxes, weasels, and rabbits at Cro-Magnon sites, while the rope, fishhooks, and net sinkers explain the bones of fish and flying birds at contemporary South African sites. (114)

Whereas Neanderthals obtained their raw materials within a few miles of home, Cro-Magnons and their contemporaries throughout Europe practiced long-distance trade, not only for raw materials of tools but also for "useless" ornaments. Tools of high-quality stone such as obsidian, jasper, and flint are found hundreds of miles from where those stones were quarried. Baltic amber reached southeast Europe, while Mediterranean shells were carried to inland parts of France, Spain, and the Ukraine. I saw very similar patterns in modern Stone Age New Guinea, where cowry shells prized as decorations were traded up to the highlands from the coast, bird-of-paradise plumes were traded back down to the coast, and obsidian for stone axes was traded out from a few highly valued quarries. (114)

The standard stone tools of the late Middle Palaeolithic in Europe are known as 'Mousterian' and are attributed to Neanderthals, who were the sole human occupants of Europe until around 45 to 40 kya. (145)

When it comes to the Upper Palaeolithic, four principal technological stages have been identified. The first is 'Aurignacian': this term is used to define the emergence of more sophisticated implements around 40 to 35 kya, which has now become synonymous with the arrival of modern humans in Europe. They probably came from the Levant and Turkey, crossing the Bosphorus, which was above sea level at the time. The earliest known Aurignacian sites are in the Balkans around 43 kya. Their initial movement, seems to have been along the Danube valley. At the same time similar people were moving round the shoreline of the Mediterranean into Greece and Italy. Three thousand years later at the most, the Aurignacian technology appears across the continent in Spain. (145)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 In 1958, at a site near Lewisville, Texas, stone tools and burned animal bones were found in association with hearths. Later, as the excavation progressed, radiocarbon dates of at least 38,000 years were announced for charcoal from the hearths. (138)

Other